Monday 21 February 2011

4 Hour Body experiment - 2 week progress

For the last 2 weeks I've been focusing on following the 'Occum Protocol' in the new Tim Ferriss book The 4-Hour Body. My goal is to increase my weight from below 69kg to above 75kg in 5 weeks by adding muscle mass not fat. The approach is to use a few principles that might seem counter-intuitive to hack your body and create exceptional results without too much effort.

Why am I doing this? Well, your body is the most important gift you have, so I believe that you should figure out how to make the most of it. After spending way too much time in the office, and not enough time getting in shape, I now really want to make sure I'm in peak physical condition, and this is the first big step.

After 2 weeks I can definitely say that it's already working!
The blue dots show weight in kgs. The green line is where I need to be in order to hit target. If I go below the red line it's not working, if I go above the yellow line it's working better than planned! The graph also shows the week previous to starting the experiment where I was already eating well and exercising a little but as you can see, I was actually losing weight.

As soon as I started on the plan my weight began to shoot up and I've consistently been above target since. This is with minimal gym time but a big focus on food input. What's interesting is that lots of people doubted that this plan would work at all, but for me at least it is proceeding perfectly and I'm not getting fat either.

Here's what I've learned so far...


The biggest challenge is NOT go to the gym as much as you want to! The method is all about doing what you need in the gym (and no more) as quickly as possible, then allowing maximum time to recover. It feels really strange doing less than 15 minutes in the gym less than 3 times a week but that's all that you need.

You need to hit muscle failure. The method stresses the importance of hitting muscular failure of large muscle groups to kick start your hormones into sending growth messages. By doing heavy weights at slow speed you can hit failure in one set! Hardly any gym time is required, but it does need to be incredibly focused and productive gym time. If you can do any more reps after 1 minute rest you haven't hit failure.

You don't need to do cardio. I did one cardio session before the start of the plan and one after 2 weeks. Even though I hadn't done any cardio in between my performance had improved.  The book talks about the fact that the weight training alone will trigger an improvement and this has been the case for me. I do think that psychologically you feel better if you throw in some non-muscle-failure exercise, but it's not part of the plan and it will mean you need to eat more. Yoga seems to work well for me and makes sure your getting stretched properly.

The 2 recommended supplements

Creatine seems to help with achieving muscle failure. Adding creatine to my diet seems to have given me a muscular boost that means I can push a couple of extra reps out of each set. A downside is that for the first week it makes you go to the loo, a lot! Waking up 3 time in the night also messes up your sleep cycle quite a bit. After 2 weeks this seems to have reduced to a much more acceptable level thankfully!

L-glutamine is recommended to help improve food absorption, but it's also really helped me with combating muscle soreness. One things I always hated about weight training was the aches that came with it. So far I have had no aches at all, and this is likely to be due to having and l-glutamine tablet twice a day.


As I mentioned in the last post, the real challenge is getting enough food and protein into your body each day. Having a stockpile of the following ingredients has made life much easier:
  • Whey protein powder - mixed into a shake with peanut butter, milk and a bannana
  • Protein bars - stick a couple in your bag for when you can't get access to protein rich food
  • Liquid egg white - super easy to make a high protein snack
  • Eggs - in case you get bored of just the whites
  • Frozen spinach and frozen broccoli - super easy to add veg to meals
  • Peanuts - good booster snack
  • Quinoa -  a 'good' carb that also contains protein
  • Meat - beef, chicken, fish, pork, lamb are all good. Make sure you eat plenty.
  • Water bottle - you need to drink lots of water (3-4 litres) so keep topping this up

Introducing PAGG

The good folks at Pareto Nutrition have been giving me some advice on my plan and have also been kind enough to let me test out their new PAGG stack supplements. In the 4 Hour Body Tim raves about the effect of PAGG (which is Policosanol, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Green Tea Extract & Garlic) on fat loss and muscle gain. Pareto Nutrition have designed their supplement formula exactly as Tim described in the book. I will be introducing PAGG to my diet shortly and will give you an update on it's effects.

If you're interested you can still track my daily progress in the original self experiment post.

All the best and keep healthy and happy!

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